A todo list to reduce stress and make you successful

How do we prioritize our work?

The two most famous models in the last fifteen years are the “7 habits” model and the “Getting Thing Done” model (although there are hundreds of others).  ( I use a more complex variation of the GTD model for myself).

I have found that there is a way to make a “small list” for those days when I am feeling overwhelmed or to make a “top of the list” when the full list is just too daunting.

Lately I’ve been using this model:

1) One thing that I’ve been putting off doing.

2) One thing that my boss (for a work list) or family member (for a non-work list) would like to see me do.

3) One thing that I would like to do.

4) One thing that will help me make progress toward my biggest goal.

5) One thing that I can do quickly.

Reducing stress

So what in the above list will lead to a life of reduced stress?

Starting at the top, #1 probably indicates something that you are afraid of or are unsure of how to do — both of those things add stress so it follows that doing that thing will eliminate stress.

Doing #2 will usually generate positive feelings between you and your boss or you and a family member.  Better relationships in those areas will generally reduce your stress.

Doing #3 will usually make you happy.  I hate the days where I work as hard as I can but the thing that I think is important or will be fun stays undone.

Doing #4 will NOT do much for short term stress but should help your long term stress as you see your overall goals coming to fruition.

Doing #5 just gets something off your list so that the next time you take a look, it’s a smaller list so that will also reduce your stress a bit.

Being more successful

Now let’s look at the list and see how these contribute to success.

Number 1 may or may not make you successful.  It will however help protect your reputation.  No one wants to have the reputation for not finishing tasks they have been given.

Number 2 is huge for your work success (although in non-work situations it may simply keep your family happy which is a success but not a milestone type of success).  From a work point of view, if you did the 300 most important things every year, I suspect that your boss would be pretty happy.

Number 3 may not help you be successful other than the stress reduction discussed above.  It depends on how well your “want to do” line up with your long term goals.

Number 4 is of course a huge impact on long term success.  Take a step toward your most important long term goal every day and you will reach your goal (assuming you make minor adjustments as necessary).

Quick List

When you aren’t making progress or you are just being swamped, take a break from your big to do lists and knock out the five things above and then go to sleep at the end of the night knowing that you’ve set yourself up for success and reduced stress.


About kentostby
Kent Ostby is a fiction and efficiency writer who is willing to dabble in just about any other phase of writing as well.

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